How to feed your dog

Looking for advice on feeding a puppy? Check out our handy puppy feeding guide here!

A handful. A bowlful. However much they’ll eat. We all have different ways of feeding our dog. But feeding the right amount can have a big impact on their health  – keeping them at a healthy weight and reducing pressure on their joints to name just a couple. But how much food is the right amount?

How much should my dog eat?

Every dog’s ideal portion is different. Lots of factors affect how much food your dog needs, including:

  • Breed
  • Size
  • Metabolism
  • Activity level
  • Age
  • How often they eat
  • Appetite
  • Whether or not they’re neutered

Getting your dog’s portion size right is all about balance. Big dogs need more food to fuel their larger frame, but their metabolism tends to be slower – so a dog five times as big as a Chihuahua doesn’t necessarily need five times as much food.

With most foods for dogs, there’s some trial and error involved. The packet usually gives a guideline amount, so start there. Then adjust this to account for any reasons your dog’s metabolism might be faster or slower than average – an online dog calorie calculator can help.

At tails.com, we tailor your dog’s feeding plan to their individual nutritional requirements – and we’ll send you a handy adjustable scoop so you can make sure you feed the right amount every time.

How often should I feed my dog?

Most owners feed twice a day – this is a great routine for healthy dogs with a good appetite, who don’t mind a long gap between meals.

Feeding twice a day supports effective blood glucose control, and helps keep your dog’s energy levels stable. It helps make meals more enjoyable too – most owners are home with their dog at least twice a day, so breakfast and dinner don’t have to be rushed.

Some dogs prefer to eat more often, and that’s OK – it all comes down to your dog’s energy levels and appetite, and what works best for you. Whatever you decide, keep your dog’s portion sizes in check by working out how much food your dog needs for the day, and splitting it between how many meals you’re planning to serve.

Can I feed my dog once a day?

Most dogs need food more often. But for those with a particularly small appetite, a single meal a day may be enough. Working dogs who are out all day may also prefer to have one rewarding meal in the evening, with treats throughout the day to keep their motivation up.

What’s free feeding?

Free or ad lib feeding means putting enough food out for the whole day, and letting your dog graze when they like. This can be helpful if your dog needs to gain weight, because it makes sure there’s always food available when they want to eat.

Junior dogs and underweight adolescents can benefit from free feeding too, as long as you weigh out the right amount of food at the start of the day. This keeps them from overeating, which can affect their digestion and growth.

Free feeding isn’t suitable for all dogs. Give it a miss if your dog falls into one of these categories:

  • Dogs with a seemingly endless appetite who will eat too much
  • Those with a poor appetite who need a long gap between meals to feel hungry
  • Deep chested breeds that may be prone to bloating
  • Overweight dogs who need controlled portions for weight loss
  • Dogs with certain medical conditions like diabetes
  • Those with digestion issues made worse by eating too much, or too quickly

Can I feed my dog little and often?

Feeding small meals four times a day can help dogs with a small appetite eat more. This means it’s good for small or underweight dogs as it helps them stay, or get back to, a healthy weight. Appetite can wane as dogs age too, so many elderly dogs prefer eating this way. Little and often is also recommended if your dog is prone to low blood sugar, or is a working dog.

It’s important for active dogs rest after each meal so they don’t bloat – something that can cause serious health complications.

What if my dog is still hungry?

If you’re feeding the recommended amount and your dog is still giving you their ‘feed me please’ eyes, try to resist the urge to top up their bowl right away. Some dogs – for example, Pugs, Labradors, Beagles and Dachshunds – are renowned for wanting to eat all day. Switching them to a less energy dense, or higher-fibre food can help. So can feeding smaller meals more regularly. These are just some of the ideas we recommend for easing your dog’s hunger without overfeeding.

Can I feed my dog at different times each day?

Whichever routine you choose, try and stick to a regular schedule so your dog gets to know when food is coming. Regular mealtimes also keep your dog pooing like clockwork, so it’s easier to track any changes in their digestive health.

Our food works with any routine, so tails.com customers are completely in control – you tell us the routine that works best for you and your dog, and we design a feeding plan around it.

Got questions about how much to feed your dog? Whether you’re establishing a new routine or thinking of changing an old one, get in touch with us at hello@tails.com – our veterinary and nutritionist team are always happy to offer their expert advice.

23 thoughts on “How to feed your dog”

  1. Hi
    Ziggy is our dog we are a bit concerned about his food should we giving him 3 scoops at each meal or three scoops over the day.
    Would welcome your feed back.
    G Lorimer

    Reply
  2. Very helpful advice for me as I’ve just started Bengi on “Tails”and he loves it despite my initial reservations to change of diet he just got straight in .The hardest now is stopping his treats ,when he looks up at you and questions why he isn’t getting anything .He now eats twice a day instead of 3 or 4 and he does seem to be different in lots of ways.I hope he meets his required weight when his next check is due ,but I shall be recommending “Tails” to my doggy owner friends .Pete.

    Reply
  3. My dog is eating 2 of the recommended scoops but is only ised half of monthly supply. Is quantity correct and can i skip a monthly order.

    Reply
  4. We just got our delivery and want to double check how much we feed our dog Carlos, on the leaflet it said 1-9 cups x 2, is that full cups?
    Many thanks

    Reply
  5. Struggling to understand the wet food measurements, it says 150g of a 300g tray a day, so 2 meals a day our dog is only getting quarter of a tray per meal??
    It needs to be a little more detailed as I’ve noticed alot of people are confused about portions also. A quarter of a 300g tray oesent seem a substanstial amount for our lab x rottie!

    Reply
    • Hi Georgia, sorry to hear that you’re having trouble with your dog’s wet food portions. So that we can take a closer look and help, please send us an email at hello@tails.com or send us a direct message on Facebook Messenger and we can help.

      Reply
  6. Confused from Cornwall

    Received my box of dried and wet food for my vizsla and schnoodle and found no instructions on wether to mix the biscuits and wet food, I have read this isn’t good to do but it is such a small portion half a 300g tray of wet food for my Vizsla a day that I have no choice to mix it otherwise it would be gone in one mouthful, and why has my 1.8 st Schnoodle who is 2 thirds smaller than my 6 st vizsla been given the same daily portion of wet food, it just doesn’t make sense ?
    They normally have dried food for breakfast and raw meat and veg for dinner but the suggested 2 large scoops of biscuits is to much for breakfast and the tiny half a tray of meat for dinner leaves me no option but to mix. Please advise

    Reply
    • Hi Jo, we’re sorry for the confusion with your dog’s portions here, our Customer team would like to take a closer look into this for you. Just send us a direct message via Facebook Messenger with your details and we can go through this with you to help 💙

      Reply

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